Saturday, December 24, 2016

Week #23 - A Penang Christmas: December 19, 2016 – December 23, 2016

Christmas in Penang
Merry Christmas!

This week in Penang, we celebrated Christmas with the branch! It was great fun! Members and nonmembers joined together for a time of singing, a program, and food. Even in a mostly Muslim country, many people from Christian or other religious backgrounds came together to learn of Christ, who He is, and join together in worshipping song and praise. We shared the Christmas initiative, the meaning behind Christmas, and the primary put on a nativity play. It was a very spiritual night. Of course, in Penang, the food was not traditional ham and potatoes, but full of the cultures of Penang, including curry, rice, tofu, and mee (noodles). Every 3rd Sunday in the Branch is a potluck full of the different cultures of Penang. I've never seen people love food as much as the people of Penang! It has been so amazing to see how Christmas brings people together and softens hearts. As we bike around in Penang, even though there are many Muslims, everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, is so happy to talk with us and wish us Merry Christmas. I am so thankful for all of you in my life, and for the examples of Christ like love and service you have demonstrated in your everyday life. At this special time of year, may we remember to make room for the Savior in our lives, to remember those less fortunate, and to seek His counsel in all that we do. For He is the perfect example and light of all mankind.

The branch potluck

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Week: #21 – Charity: The Gateway to the Heart: November 29, 2016 – December 5, 2016

Buddhist Temple
This week has been quite slow. For the most part of this week, Sister Durham and I were sick. I had a small cold while Sister Durham had more severe symptoms, including vomiting. Therefore, we were nursing Sister Durham for the most part. Throughout this transfer, there have been some tough times, and our companionship has not worked together as smoothly.  As we've been patient, caring, and loving, I was able to see how charity can soften a heart. I've experienced it for myself. I've also seen the effects it has on others--members, companions, and investigators. Six weeks ago, one of our investigators became very hard-hearted and started yelling at us. We patiently listened then quietly told her we loved her and walked away. This week, she gave us a call. We were able to listen to her and serve her. Through those acts, her heart was opened again. It was through charity, the pure love of Christ, that her heart was opened and softened. Charity not only softens hearts, but it allows one to be open to spiritual promptings. As I was writing letters to the members in Penang, I found that my thoughts and words seemed to flow out of me. I knew those words I was writing was not by my thoughts alone and were truly inspired.

Chinese Artifacts

Week #22 – Miracles!: December 6, 2016 – December 12, 2016

Fixing Sister Quan's bike chain
This week has been full of miracles! Sister Quan has been riding a bike that the chain comes off easily. As we were riding, we've had many kind souls pull over to help us reattach it. One of the people we met became an investigator. As we've met, this person has a strong desire to share the gospel, yet they only knew about the new Christmas video "Light the World". This showed me the miracle of God, working on the hearts of His children to soften and prepare them to hear His word. Another miracle day was when we were visiting a park. We were having a hard time finding potential investigators to give us their number and set up an appointment. One day, however, we were lead to a park that helped us find 9 potential investigators, and we taught 2 people a full lesson, who later became investigators. This showed me that God hears and answers prayers. Sometimes He answers them in a miracle that is easy to spot. Sometimes, it's not so easy to recognize the answer. However, He always answers. The last miracle of this week was the ability to speak the words that I lacked. There were times while meeting members that I was not sure what to say. My companion would talk about two seemingly different ideas that made absolutely no sense in my head. It was when I opened my mouth, not knowing what to say and trusting God to lead me, I was able to testify and say the words that the members needed
Sisters Vranes and Durham
to hear. I was able to make complete sense of what was previously said and testify of God. I know that sometimes we are presented with others concerns, not knowing what to say. I know that the person and God trust us to help them. I know that if you open your mouth and you are testifying of God and goodness, you will always know what to say to help touch the person who trusts you.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Week #20 – Singapore and Broken Chains: November 28, 2016 – November 22, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!!! This week we went back to Singapore for Zone Conference. Usually Zone Conference with the Mission President is every other transfer. The past few times, the president has gone out to the area, but in the past, there were 2 large zone conferences in Singapore. It is being changed yet again so there are 4 zone conferences in Singapore. This allows missionaries to not only have training, but to do visa runs. Since it was changed recently, we had another zone conference with the president so that we could all be on the same track again for visa runs. This zone conference was training on how to find and teach better, as well as learning how to become a fully consecrated missionary. This is actually a talk called, "The Consecrated Missionary" given by Tad R. Callister. We were also able to have a Thanksgiving dinner put on by the Mission President and his wife and the other senior missionaries. It was very delicious! 

Upon our return to Malaysia, all of the missionaries in Penang were invited by an American family to have a second Thanksgiving with them. It was also very delicious and fun! One thing I am thankful for is the power of prayer and the safety Heavenly Father has provided for us. One of my companions has a bike whose chain has continually been braking off these past few days. We haven't had time to fix it, other than to attach the chain back on. Luckily through prayer, several kind people have stopped to help us. It has really showed me that Heavenly Father answers our prayers. It also showed me how kind people are to others who are in need of help. It reminds me once of a talk that was given in my home ward at sacrament meeting. The person giving the talk had lived in many places, especially in the U.S. They had noticed one difference in some of the places he lived than in others, kindness. In one place, they were nice, but not kind. In the other, it was opposite. I often sat and pondered that experience. What does it mean to be kind? What does it mean to be nice? What is the difference? Is it the amount of care and charity behind the act? Are we just saying, "Hi!" for pleasantries? Or is there more? What about your neighbor? Would you only wave to them? Or would you stop by to help them? Think about it for a bit? How will you show someone that you care today?

(Sister Vranes could not load pictures this week.)

Friday, November 25, 2016

Week #19 – Field Week: November 15, 2016 – November 21, 2016

Sister Quan, Durham, and Vranes at the baptism
This week we finally had a baptism! It was awesome to see how one person could change so much in such a short time (2 months)! I was able to see the atonement of Jesus Christ change someone else's life--to heal, and to change their very nature. It was a very awesome, exciting, and humbling experience. Afterwards, our investigator bore hid testimony. He was so humble and had truly changed his life.  He explained his life beforehand, which led to a life of destruction, to his life now, which is full of hope and joy. It made me realize the power of the atonement to change not only my life, but other people's. It also made me realize the importance of what we are doing as missionaries to share the gospel.

Youth Park
As for a miracle this week, while Sister Quan was away, we were very down because of how few potential investigators we had. We were trying to contact, but no one was willing to listen. We tried going to the youth park in the morning while Sister Quan was here and that was very fruitful. It came to Sister Durham's mind to try the park again. When we arrived, so many people were either going too fast or too slow. I was thinking, "No one's going to want to talk to us." So I said a mini prayer to gain confidence to talk to someone. After that prayer, a man came up to us to talk. He said he wasn't going to come but felt the need to, then started talking to us of all people. After that, another lady came up and said the same thing! She became a potential investigator. Afterward, I talked to 3 other people, and each of those people became potential investigators. It was amazing because it showed me that God really does know each of His children and is mindful of them. There are also people that each one of us influences because of who we are. It also amazed me how Heavenly Father heard and answered my prayer. He led those people to find us and talk to us. He showed me that He hears my prayers. He helped me gain confidence to talk to more people.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Week #18 – Field Week: November 8, 2016 – November 14, 2016

This week has been an awesome week! There have been many miracles I have seen this week. Before Sister Quan left to Ipoh for exchanges, she gave us training about inspired questions. It has inspired me more to work on these. While Sister Quan was away, we had a first lesson with a new investigator, and the whole time she was more into her phone than what we had to say. We were constantly saying her name, but it didn't keep her attention for more than three seconds at a time. As we sat in silence for a minute, the inspired question came, and that question changed the whole lesson. She was surprised, then turned her phone off, turned it over, and pushed it away from her. That question was definitely inspired by the Spirit. It increased my faith so much in the power of the Spirit to lead us in lessons. I have been working the rest of the week to listen better to the person and the Spirit, to discern, and to ask those inspired questions in lessons and contacts. 

Another miracle that happened was to finally see some of the influence I have made to contribute to Penang. First, when we asked one of our investigators what their favorite verse was in the Book of Mormon, I realized it was a verse that came to my mind that I shared when they were in a slump. That was cool to see how the Spirit guided me to influence them in that way. The past couple of weeks I've been able to make such connections with some members, that they've been able to not only open up about some of their needs, but I've been able to give silent comfort as they talked and cried it out. It's just been cool for me to see how much of an influence one makes without even realizing it. It's grown my testimony of the Lord knowing what is best for me. I still may not see the good in everything in His plan for others, but I know He sees it. I'm really going to try harder to be the true me in Penang, to reach out and talk to His children, and to influence them in the way the Lord would want me to.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Week #17 - Field Week: November 1, 2016 - November 7, 2016

Pink Dragon Fruit
This week was so busy it went by as a blur. Literally, I can't remember anything! We traveled to the other side of the island to Bayan Lepas, away from the tourist section. The area is beautiful and looks like a jungle. We eat a lot of good fruit here. I've really enjoyed dragon fruit, which comes in pink, white, and black. There is so much variety that I haven't really eaten the same thing twice, unless it was for breakfast. We are currently in the rainy season and it just pours. We've been teaching and serving people along the way as usual. On Sunday, we were able to have one of our investigator's do missionary work with us. As we went about serving the ward members and meeting many others, they were able to understand and experience the work we do on the Sabbath Day. It's on the Sabbath that the Lord asks us to take time out of our week to attend His church, partake of His sacrament, and serve our neighbors who are in need. The members said, that it was the best day they had in a long time. I know that serving others is one of the ways we find happiness and meaning in our lives. Throughout this week, we've been able to show a few others the joys of serving and missionary work. Since we're in a
Bayan Leps, Malaysia
tripanionship, we're able to do splits with members of the same gender who are over 16 years old. We've been able to do this with some awesome members and especially those ward members who would like to serve a mission. It's been exciting to see how happy and excited these members get while serving their neighbors. I know that missionary work is one of the most rewarding things we can do. It takes courage, but I know that the things we say and testify to each other can change a person's life. 

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Week #16 - The Three Midgeteers: October 25, 2016 - October 31, 2016
The three shorties

 This week was transfer week! I stayed in Penang with Sister Durham, but we also gained another companion, whom we are killing as well (meaning she finishes her mission and goes home at the end of this transfer). Sister Durham and I are companions in crime ;) Anyway, our new companion is Sister Quan. She is from Virgina (Washington D.C. area), and is very kind with awesome ideas! She's also an amazing violinist! She's been called Malay speaking, but she speaks fluent Mandarin, Cantonese, and understands many of the dialects here (including Hokkien)! She is actually American born Chinese because her grandparents were the ones who immigrated from China to the U.S. Previously, she had spent half of her life living in the U.S. and the other half in China! Plus, she's shorter than me (by like half a foot but it still counts)! That's very rare and amazing! So now our tallest companion is Sister Durham, who is still below 5 feet. We're officially the Three Midgeteers!

Vegetarian Spaghetti
Happy Deepavali!
This week was a regular week of missionary work and lots of rain. There were also a few flat tires here and there. The rain in Penang is kind of like the movies where it just pours. I didn't think it was a real thing, but it is! In a blink of an eye it seems to start pouring, stays for a good 30 minutes, and then leaves just as fast as it came. Once, our investigator told us about a day they purposely did not pray nor read the scriptures. The next day, they were not able to do their work at all. Everything was forgotten. After meeting with us, everything was all good again and as they continued to pray and read the scriptures. I know that the small things that build our faith and show our willingness to obey God are essential. It reminds us of whom we truly rely on and everything we have and can do are not truly ourselves, but are Heavenly Father's. It's not Heavenly Father who leaves us, it's us who leaves Him. Continue coming unto Heavenly Father by praying and reading the scriptures. These will truly draw us nearer to Him.
Last Day with Sister Larkin

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Week #15 - I'm not Korean: October 18, 2016 - October 24, 2016

Eating Korean food with long noodles.
This week was my first time trying Korean food. It was very delicious but SPICY! Since I've been in Malaysia, most people ask me if I'm Korean, Japanese, or any other type of asian except Chinese. As I walked into the Korean restaurant, the Korean man at the counter greeted me in Korean and when I asked if he thought I was Korean, he said yes. Well at least I even fool the locals! 

The upside down museum.
For p-day, we went to the Upside Down Museum. The pictures were totally awesome as we defied gravity, kind of. You have to use the context clues to see what angle the picture needs to be turned so that the right side is up :) This week we are saying goodbye to Sister Larkin as she returns home to Australia.  She has been a wonderful companion to both Sister Durham and myself.  Good luck Sister Larkin!! Sister Quan, coming from East Malaysia, will now be joining Sister Durham and myself in Penang. We are excited to have her with us.

This week we went back to Ipoh for both Zone Conference and District Conference. Zone Conference occurs once per transfer where we learn how to be better missionaries with the mission president and his wife. The Ipoh Zone also had District Conference (similar to stake conference). The Ipoh Zone includes Ipoh, Penang, Butterworth (mainland Penang that is an elders only area), and Sitiawan (elders only area). It was fun to go back to my first, original area and see the awesome members in both Ipoh and Penang! When members from Ipoh asked me
Ipoh Zone
about Penang, my companion just had to spread the news that I fell into the sewers. Now everybody calls me Sister Drains. During conference, we learned more about faith and how faith in Jesus Christ and His atonement leads us to repentance. I enjoyed a quote by Elder David A Bednar in the October 2007 conference, "Our spiritual purpose is to overcome both sin and the desire to sin, both the taint and tyranny of sin". I know this purpose is only accomplished through the atonement of Christ and our faith to act and repent. 

Friday, October 21, 2016

Week #14 - Exchanges in KL: October 11, 2016 - October 17, 2016

Kuala Lampar, Malaysia
This week we went on exchanges for a day with the Sister Training Leaders in Kuala Lumpur. It's a busy city, but it was fun to contact people on an LRT, a type of public transport similar to the subway, rather than on our bikes. We were able to learn different teaching techniques, styles, and ideas. It was fun to be in the city and get more ideas for missionary work in Penang.

Penang is an awesome city! It's an island so it's hot and humid. It's also a touristy destination. There are a lot of vegetarians here, so I see a lot of vegetarian houses (restaurants). In Malaysia, there are 3 main cultures: Chinese, Malay, and Indian. Most people speak 3 or more languages: English, Malay, and whatever heritage they have. I often hear Mandarin, Tamil, and Hokkian (a Chinese dialect) around Penang. In Ipoh, it would be Mandarin, Cantonese, and Tamil. Wherever I go, the signs are usually in English, Malay, and Mandarin. Funny, Mandarin, Cantonese, and Hokkian are all Chinese dialects, spoken differently, but all are written the same. As for food, it is
delicious! Penang is especially known for its food. The Indian food is delicious! I love cheese naan, and we get it quite often. The Chinese food is also delicious. Rice is eaten with every meal, so the food fills you up fast! Instead of forks and knives, they eat everything with spoons and forks. We scoop up all of the food with a fork, and put in on the spoon to eat, or we eat with our hands (mostly an Indian style). The culture and people here are so awesome and interesting. Most people I meet here are religious in some way or another, mostly Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, or Christian. It's been fun to have so many cultures meet in one place!

The Petronas Twin Towers, KL
On Sunday, the primary children had their primary program in the church. The primary children are kids in the church ages 4-11, who had a short program of singing songs. It was so fun to see the kids. The theme was the scriptures, and their hope is that each of the children could say, "I know The Book of Mormon is true" with confidence by the end of the year. It was precious to hear their singing and know that they were genuine when they sang the songs and shared their testimonies. There were a couple of talks after the primary children concluded. One of the talks was about the primary children and how courageous, fearless, innocent, and forgetful they are. The primary children are very forgetful, but in a good way. When we do something to hurt their feelings, we just need to say sorry, and then they are happy again. It's because a child is so innocent, and CHOOSES to have the best image of people in their heads, that they are so forgiving. When we say sorry, they are so easy to forgive and forget. That is what makes children so precious and innocent. We should be as little children and CHOOSE to have the best image of the people in our lives in our head. We CHOOSE to forgive, we CHOOSE to forget. This will help us have more love towards one another, and more peace in our lives.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Week #13 - The Sewers: October 4, 2016 - October 10, 2016

Trying on Malaysian elephant pants

This week while biking and trying to get past the cars, I fell off my bike, and my foot slipped into the sewers. It was disgusting. Least to say, my companions sandwich me so I don't die. So that was the fun moment of the week.

This week was awesome, because we were able to watch General Conference! I was able to see quite a few friends I had in the MTC and from high school in the MTC choir singing during conference. That was a lot of fun! There were a lot of members here who came to conference in Penang. I am amazed by the faith of the members here. Most of the people have a hard time getting to church, but they do what they can to attend faithfully each week. In conference, I loved the theme: The Atonement. After conference, we watched a video about missionary work and the atonement. It was so inspiring and beautiful. If you can, look it up. It discussed how missionary work is not an easy task; it is hard. That is because salvation was not easy, and did not come by a cheap price. Yet, the worth of souls was so great to the Savior that he was willing to pay for everyone. How much are we willing to pay to help our fellow brothers and sisters?

After conference, we visited one of our investigator's, A. By the acts and love we've shown her, she's talked about us to her family. They were impressed and her son told her to bring us with her. When we arrived, 14 members of her family were wanting to meet us. They all welcomed us with open arms and warm smiles. It was awesome to see how just showing love to one person impresses upon another so much. What can you do today to show more love?
Penang, West Malaysia

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Week #12: Transfer to Penang, September 27, 2016 - October 3, 2016

This week I've been emergency transferred to Penang. When we entered Malaysia, my companion was only allowed
Goodbye party for Sister Vranes and Montague
2 weeks. Due to the chop (Singapore missionary term for having to leave the country), she is now only allowed in East Malaysia and Singapore. She's gone to Singapore, while I was moved to Penang, which is still in West Malaysia. Here, I have two companions, Sister Durham and Sister Larkin. Sister Durham is a Chinese speaking sister who is from Logan, Utah. Sister Larkin is a Malay speaking sister from Australia. She goes home at the end of this transfer. Oh, and there are 4 elders, and guess what? Elder Gould from my MTC district is in this area! Anyway, Penang is awesome!! It's basically like Ipoh, except more humid, because it's on an island. Plus it's a tourist spot with lots of visitors.

So since I've been in Penang, which was Wednesday, my first day we had two lessons. In the second lesson, we have an investigator, M, who actually
Sister Montague and Vranes at the goodbye party
asked to get baptized before we could ask him! He's had a rough life, and is trying to change it around. On Saturday, it wasn't our turn to clean the church, but we were called in to clean it anyway. When we arrived, M was sitting outside of the gate. He had arrived 15 minutes earlier, and had walked an hour by foot from his home to get there. He was very humbled and sought out the help of the Lord. He knew he needed solace, so he sought out the church. I was so very impressed by his choice in the first place. We were able to show him the chapel, and teach him a lesson. This was a tender mercy of the Lord. He knew what M needed and where we needed to be in order to help M. I know the Lord places us in people's paths for a reason, and at the time that they need our help.

Last story, before I left Ipoh, a member, N, has a tradition called The Temple Pic. She asks each missionary to print off a picture of their local temple and write their testimony on the back. Then she puts every one on her fridge. She has never been to a temple before. There is not one here in Malaysia. The closest temple is in Hong Kong, and soon Thailand once it is built.
Penang Island
The members in Ipoh and Penang try to arrange a temple visit every year, but only a handful are able to go. I am amazed by the faith of these members, like N, and so many others here who have never been to a temple let alone seen one in person, but still have the faith that one day they will enter into the Lord's house. It's so very humbling to remember how blessed we are to be so close to a temple. How will you remember the Lord this day?
Sister Vranes, Larkin, Durham, Penang Missionaries

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Week #11: Ipoh, West Malaysia September 20, 2016 - September 26, 2016

This week while contacting we met two ladies who spoke mostly Chinese. They were really sweet, nice, and funny. They spoke broken English saying they only spoke Mandarin. My companion rode up to them, started talking in
Zone Conference in Ipoh, West Malaysia
English, and then in Mandarin. When they saw me ride up, they ignored her and started only talking to me telling my companion (because she is white), "No. You don't speak Mandarin. She does." Unfortunately, my companion's mandarin is better than mine. whoops!

Ooo, just a little fun thing, I was able to wash N----'s dogs for service. We washed all 12 of them and a little puppy Bella that she rescued the other day but gave to her neighbor. It was cuteness overload here. They were all so big and cute. Sadly, I forgot my camera so I didn't get a picture :\

This week we had zone meeting, so all of the sisters and elders in West Malaysia came together. There are only 2 other sisters in Penang, and us four in Ipoh. All of the elders I met would only talk to me in Mandarin. The sisters said it was just them trying to see how well the "greenies" (newbies) spoke. Ugh. Elders. Anyways, it was a great time, we were spiritually enlightened and it renewed our drive to go out and serve.
Zone Conference in Ipoh, West Malaysia

Well this week I have been studying about the enabling power the atonement. Elder David A. Bednar gave a great talk at a BYU devotional about it. I know hat the Lord's atonement is not only to heal, but to give us strength beyond our own. When we go through trials we think we cannot handle, the Lord will help us, all we need to do is ask. The Lord loves you and wants to help you. He wants you to be as a child, and ask for help. I know He will answer and give you more strength than you could ever imagine.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Week #10: Ipoh, West Malaysia September 13, 2016 - September 19, 2016

I've made it to Singapore! I traveled in a group of 9 elders, and I was a lone sister. After 18 long hours on a plane, we landed in Singapore, and I got motion sickness. It was a great
Sister Vranes with the Mission President,
President Stephens, and Sister Stephens
way to start off the mission in the field. Not. The first place we ate in Singapore was as native as you can get...Burger King! In Singapore, we met up with a sister who is from Malaysia going to the Salt Lake City mission (Bountiful is also included). She's just waiting for her visa to the U.S., so until then, she's serving in East Malaysia. Her name is Sister Latchamanan (I think that is how you spell it). I also saw Sister Emma Toone in Singapore! I went to high school with her. She was previously in Ipoh, and was just tranferred to Singapore. It was great to see a familiar face my first day! The next day, we found out our new companions and left to our new areas. There was a Sister Peterson and Sister Montague who are Malay speaking and Mandarin speaking, respectively. We met them our first day in Singapore, and they had switched tags to try to keep us guessing who were our companions. Sister Toone told me about Sister Montague and what she looked like, so the surprise for me was ruined. It was funny to see Sister Latchamanan's reaction though. 
Sister Vranes and her companion Sister Montague

My first area is obviously Ipoh, which is in West Malaysia. My companion is Sister Montague from Arizona. She's pretty awesome. They decorate the covers of their planners, to "waterproof" them, and she made an awesome one with a baby. There's a whole new language they speak here, and especially between the missionaries. They talk about babies and mamas (newbies and trainers), and people dying (or people who have just finished their mission). I was so confused. The culture here is so different, but I love the people! There are mostly Malaysians (Muslims), Chinese, and Indians. They are all so kind and friendly. I expected to be speaking Mandarin, but the area I am in is mostly English, so all of the lessons are in English. My companion and I still use Mandarin whenever we are together. 

Carrying lanterns for Autumn Moon Festival
In Ipoh, there are only 6 missionaries--2 elders and 4 sisters. The sisters all live together. The members here are awesome! They get super involved in helping out with the missionaries, and they sure don't let us starve. My first day here, we were able to go to a
member's house and celebrate the Moon Festival. This was my first legit moon festival, and it was fantastic! We ate moon cakes, had authentic Chinese food, and carried lanterns down the street.

So far, we've got 2 investigators. When we invited one of our investigators to relief society, she gave us a referral in front of our faces by asking her co-worker to come with her family. They both came, had their two daughters, and two 3-5 year old sons. We painted water colors and it was super fun! On my first day contacting, we were able to get 5 new potential investigators. Here, the average is 3, or so. It's very hard around here. 

Celebrating the Autumn Moon Festival
Sunday, I met the members and they are all awesome. They are mostly Indian and Chinese. Their conversion stories are amazing! They are also hilarious! I was given the opportunity to introduce myself and bear my testimony. Half of the members can't pronounce my name, they think I speak funny, ask if I'm Korean because of my face, and they almost die when they find out I am vegetarian. They feed us so much, and keep telling me I'll only last a month out here until I change my ways. Anyway, as for a spiritual thought, keep sharing your testimonies. It helps a ton. Also, I know that God answers prayers. If you have a sincere heart, He will listen and He will bless you. He has answered so many while I've been out here. I've seen His blessings in keeping us safe, especially while biking, and while trying to find people to do His work. God hears your prayers as well, and He wants to bless you.

This mission is quite unique in so many ways. We've got 3 areas in West  Malaysia, 3 areas in East Malaysia, and Singapore. There are 3 languages the missionaries speak, and we're flying all the time, at least every 90 days. We wake up at 7 instead of 6:30, and go to bed at 11, instead of 10:30. For safety, we still go back to our condos by 9:30. It's pretty hard to trying to proselyte, and numbers aren't very high. It's also difficult to get baptisms, and then to have them stay in the church. The ward is so small, there is only one in Ipoh, so it's a branch. There are 70 or so members who solidly come every week. There are a lot of Muslims around here, and we can't proselyte to them if they are from Malaysia, only if they are from Singapore. In Malaysia we bike, in Singapore they take public transport. So I am going to have awesome thighs when I get back :) There's a lot of other things I am still learning about this mission. It's very hot, humid, and tiring, but I love the work out here! I love you all! Take care!
Ipoh, Malaysia

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Week #9: MTC - September 8, 2016 - September 12, 2016

The zone sisters
It's finally happening!! Today, Monday, September 12, 2016, is finally my last day in the MTC!! It's so easy to forget there is a real world out there, but it's finally time. This morning, I sent my companion off to New York. This week has been crazy and amazing, bonding with the sisters in our district, and the other district that came in with us. After 9 weeks, it's definitely hard to say goodbye to all of these amazing missionaries.

For the last two devotionals, we were blessed to have Elder D. Todd Christofferson and Elder Russell M. Ballard speak to us. They were both inspiring and spoke about missionary work. I had never really thought about the reason missionaries teach repentance as their main purpose. It was all put into perspective at one of the devotionals. Missionaries teach repentance, because it means we are testifying of Christ. In order to repent, a person must use the atonement, which was performed and could  only could be performed through Christ. Repentance changes people, which brings about all other aspects of missionary work such as faith, baptism, and enduring to the end. This all leads to eternal life, and IS the gospel of Jesus Christ. "We talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ..." (2 Nephi 25:26)

In our class, we have learned and discussed a lot about the 5 main motivations for doing something: 1) Duty, 2) Revenge, 3) Fear, 4) Reward (Blessings), 5) Love. Out of all of them, love is the only one that will never fail. We learn in the church to have charity, which is "the pure love of Christ"(Moroni 7:47). We also learn, however, that "charity never faileth" (Moroni 7: 46). I promise you that if you do anything out of love, you will have what it takes to endure until the end. Also, from class, my testimony has grown immensely about the power of a simple testimony. Every day for the past week, we have had the opportunity to share our testimonies to our districts and to the other districts in our zone (and even some in the other zone). I know that simply saying what you truly believe in your heart and in your mind brings the spirit of God so strongly, and strengthens the faith of the individual saying it.

Here's some of my testimony:

I know this gospel is true. I have a true love for it and for my Father in Heaven and Savior Jesus Christ. This gospel has brought tremendous joy to my life. Heavenly Father has a plan for each of us, created specifically to our needs and for our happiness. His plan is called the Plan of Salvation and the Great Plan of Happiness. I know that He provided a way for me to find my family in a way only He could do, and He has provided a way for us to live together forever, even after death. I know that this gospel will bring so much happiness to everyone else's life. I know He wants each of His children to return to Him. I have a great love for this gospel and for the brothers and sisters I have in Singapore and Malaysia. I know He will help each of them return to Him. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Week #8: MTC September 1, 2016 - September 7, 2016

This week at the MTC, we've been having bat problems! In the sister residence halls, the upper levels 3 and 4 had to move out due to bats found in some rooms. It was officially the 4th or 5th time in a short while of having bats. At first
Sister Chambers cave fortress against the bats. 
we weren't affected, because we were on the second level. The other sisters had to move to a residence hall that previously had elders, who were reassigned residence halls for this reason. To say the least, they smell like elders, the bathrooms have urinals and only some of them had doors on the stalls...Anyway, on Friday night, my roommates heard flapping in the vents! We were eventually evacuated the next day, and moved to the other sister residence on the MTC campus. It's a smaller building, but there is more space and there are only 4 sisters to a room rather than 6. Thankfully, I still have the same roommates. The elders were awesome and half of our zone helped us move out. To catch bats, you would think you would have a squad of four people or more with some gear trying to catch them. That is not the case. The elders were at devotional early, because Elder Kwok was getting ready to play a cello musical number, when a bat flew in. Instead of a squad, there was one person, about 70 years old, trying to catch the bat with a butterfly net. To say the least, this past week has a bit busy and entertaining.
Sister Vranes and her district getting their flight plans.

This Friday, I finally got my flight plans. I officially leave this Monday! I can't believe how fast the MTC experience has gone. The elders told us they did the math and by the time we leave, as a sister at least, we will have already completed 11% of our mission! What?! Anyway, I've got quite a distance to get to Singapore, because I don't even arrive there until Wednesday. I'm going from Salt Lake Airport, to LAX, to Hong Kong, to Singapore (finally)! It's super exciting, nerve wracking, and everything else at the same time.

This week for Tuesday devotional, Chad Lewis and his wife came. Chad Lewis went to the Taiwan, Taichung mission, speaks mandarin, and played football (he helped the Pittsburgh Eagles go to the Super Bowl). He was so very inspiring, and got us all pumped us ad mandarin speakers on our
Study materials I have to take to Singapore/Malaysia.
missions. He had an elder from the other zone whose dad he knew, and had him share his testimony in Mandarin. It was cool to understand the elder's whole testimony and powerful to hear him share that simple message over the stand. He told of the many time he had the opportunity to share the gospel, especially in his football career. Just hearing him talk, I could tell that his whole demeanor and the way he treated others, always testified of Christ. That is the light we all have, and the duty we all have to share it. Let your light shine through so that others may recongnize God.

On Sunday, Elder D. Todd Christofferson and his wife, Katherine Christofferson, visited. Elder Christofferson spoke of repentance as a turning to God. He also spoke of the importance of why we are sharing the message of repentance--when we share the message of repentance, we are testifiying that there is a Savior; we are testifying of Christ. His talk put a whole new perspective on our call as missionaries, and gave a lot of confidence. Sister Christofferson's talk was inspiring. She shared a story of a missionary in Russia
The two districts that are leaving the MTC on Monday.
who lost her luggage, after a week of not having found it, she wanted to go home. The mission president's wife put it so simply. There are two people who are vying for your attention: God and Satan. Who wants you to succeed? God. Who wants you to fail? Satan. Who do you want to win this war?

Friday, September 2, 2016

Week #7: MTC August 25, 2016 - August 31, 2016
A list of languages taught in the MTC

This week has been quite eventful. We have two teachers, Brother Lee and Sister Hendricks. Both of them served in Taipei, Taiwan. They also had their birthdays this week. One on Thursday, and one on Tuesday. They were both surprised that we knew, but it was lots of fun to celebrate. Then they switched up the teachers, and we got Brother Wadsworth and kept Sister Hendricks. Turns out Brother Wadsworth served in Singapore. It was really cool to learn more about our mission, and he has an authentic Beijing accent. He said that we come in contact with all kinds of Mandarin accents. He also knows some Malay and that was very exciting.

This week we also got 5 new sisters. They are all going to Taichung, Taiwan. However, 3 of the new elders are going to Singapore. While waiting for Sunday Devotional, we met an Elder Christiansen, who is Malay speaking, leaving for Singapore the same day I will. It's been fun to see him around the MTC all the time now. It's been pretty exciting because I've been finding quite a few missionaries from China and Taiwan. I'm impressed by how fast the gospel is spreading. The elders in my district have officially lost it (of course, that's what 8 weeks in the MTC does to you). Elder Barlow started a tortilla eating contest. They roll up a tortilla like a cinnamon roll and eat it in one bite, trying to see who can choke it down the fastest. They are always up to so many different antics. In our classroom, they hung up Singapore and Malaysian flags. That was a pretty awesome surprise! 

Sister Vranes and her district
This Sunday, I ended up giving the talk for sacrament meeting. Like I said before, they choose a sister and elder each week randomly to give a 5 minute talk in Mandarin. Unfortunately, I knew it was going to be me. There are 4 sisters that came in at the same time I did, me included, and I was the only option left to give a talk. My companion was giving the prayer, and the other two sisters are the Sister Training Leaders (whom the presidency never picks while they have that calling). That left me. Luckily, it went well. My district had the idea to try reverse psychology and all of us sat on the front row. Obviously it didn't work because Elder Barlow and Elder Kwok were called to give the sacrament prayer, Sister Nelson gave the opening prayer, Elder Johnson and I were called to give talks. Our district fully participated, except Elder Gould. 

On p-days we are allowed to go to the temple. Our teacher, Brother Lee, is half asian, and gave us a few of his family names from his asian-side. It was cool to do the work for his Taiwanese ancestry! Previously, in a Chinese class, I had learned that the wife does not take on the husband's name when she marries. I was all like, "Yeah! Power to the woman!" Here, I learned that in history, the husband's name would only be recorded. The wife would then be forgotten and is known as "wife of [husband's name]". So the first name was actually the whole name
My view every morning that I run

provided on the sheet. It was a fun and spiritually powerful experience to do such a thing. Hopefully one day, I could find a link to my Chinese ancestry. Ooo, turns out one of the new sisters is adopted from China as well. She was 18 months old (the same age as Sarah)! Another one of the new sisters has 2 sisters adopted from China (both from different parts...I think...)

This past week, all of the devotionals have been about the worth of souls and the impact one can make in someone else's life. In D&C 18:10, it reads, "Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God" Like a loving parent, Heavenly Father loves all of his children. He knows every child, and blesses each, one by one. The people in our lives are put there for a reason. In the end, it is to learn love, unconditionally. Whether we know it or not, the small actions we do will tremendously affect the lives of many, and sometimes, even generations. These actions may be bold and grand, or they may be small, such as flashing a smile. They may be to our closest friend or family member, or they may be to a complete stranger. Whatever it is, you make a difference. Be bold, be confident, and learn to love!
Sisters Chambers, Vranes, Pruitt, and
 Nelson pointing to their missions.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Week #6: MTC August 18, 2016 - August 24, 2016

Sister Vranes and the sisters in her zone
This week for member TRC, we were able to teach a couple from Malaysia. It was very exciting and cool to learn more about that culture. Speaking to them was a bit more difficult, since they transitioned from English to Mandarin to Malaysian all in one sentence. It was a bit intimidating to know that this is what it will most likely be like in Malaysia and Singapore. I'm beyond excited to meet the people and serve in such a diverse culture. Later that night, we had a missionaries come up to us and bear their testimony in Korean and another missionary bear theirs in ASL. Those simple testimonies were just so powerful and the Gift of Tongues is real here.

This past Tuesday, 800 missionaries left the MTC. A group of missionaries going to Taipei Taiwan, Scotland and Ireland, Hong Kong, and California left our zone. Satan is attacking our zone. Before they left, many of the missionaries leaving, and that have been here for 6 weeks, have come down with terrible colds and other physical challenges. It took many prayers, but thankfully we got them all on the plane to leave. One of the missionaries always 
Gold Stars
gave out Gold Stars, especially in volleyball if you got hit in the face or did something cool. I got 2, but I forgot the reasons (all I know was I did NOT get hit in the face). He would also stick them around random places on campus. Our classroom was bestowed with a gold star. Therefore, I've included a few pics of them. Near the end, he ran out of gold ones and would give out white and silver. I personally think the store his parents bought them at ran out because of how many he would give away per week.

For Sunday devotional, Nashville Tribute Band visited again. As a choir, we sang the same songs: "I Was Born", "John's Song", "When the Son of Man (Comes Again)", and "The Hardest Thing I Ever Loved To Do". It's amazing how much more meaning each song had this time around. I love music and there is always so much power when you are singing praises to God at the top of your lungs. It was joyous; it was happy. I wished the chorus would just go on and on.  
Sister Vranes, Sister Nelson,
President Deng, and Sister Deng
For Tuesday Devotional, Juan A. Uceda of the Seventy spoke to us. His talk was so powerful, and he is such a humble man. He is a convert to the church himself, and spoke to
 us from an investigator's viewpoint (an investigator is someone who is being taught by missionaries about the gospel, but is not a member of the church). Then he taught us as if we were an investigator, and taught us the way that we as members should do. It was inspiring and very powerful. He shared the scripture Doctrine and Covenants 4:2, which reads, "Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye
The 4 sassiest people in Sister Vranes'
zone (including Sister Vranes)
 may stand blameless before God at the last day." Focus on that word "see". It could just say "serve him with all..." but it doesn't. We need to see ourselves for what we are truly doing if we are going to ever progress. Are we really seeing the desires of our heart? Do you know what you are feeling? The pain, the fears, the worries? What about the love, the hope, and the faith? Are we identifying our talents and blessings, the might of God? Our might refers to the gifts and blessings we have in our lives from God. God doesn't bless us for ourselves, He blesses us to bless others. Do we understand what's in our mind? What thoughts are in your mind today? God speaks in silence, through your mind, your thoughts, your ideas, and your heart. I invite you today to go to a place of comfort and silence. Ask yourself what you are currently feeling 
Map of the Provo, Utah MTC
and thinking. What are you worried about? What are your fears and challenges? What do you have hope in? Take all of those negative thoughts and put them away, for they are not of God. Pray for the things you need, and you will find the answers you seek.